Poetry

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Lost scarf with gold thread

Published September 9, 2014 by megdedwards

Sunset-Vernon_BC-2014_08_11

I  had a beautiful scarf that I bought myself when I was out shopping with my precious first daughter. It was a warm gold and orange and turquoise, just vibrant and fiery and calming all at once.

I was wearing it on the day that I looked into my car’s rear view mirror and saw my friend looking in panic at something on her driveway. The snow was piled high and blocked my view. I thought she saw a dead cat.

But it was her husband. I left my little daughter in her car seat in the parked car and ran over.

When I was alone with my friend’s dead husband I could not leave his head on the ice. My friend had run into the house to get a phone. He did not seem to be alive but I was not sure.  He looked dead. I put my hand on his chest and  I turned him on to his side. When I moved him he involuntarily sighed. It did sound exactly like a man sighing but I also knew that the weight of his body had probably pushed the last bit of air from his chest.

I was alone with him for a minute or two.  It was intimate except that I did not know him and he was already dead.  He did not move.  I knew he was dead but when my friend ran back I pumped on his chest as she took instructions. As we waited for the ambulance I took off my beautiful scarf and put it under his head. It seemed so horribly cold to lie with your bare head on the icy driveway.

My little girl was waiting in the car. I dropped her at her preschool later so that I could have tea with my friend who had lost her husband that very afternoon. My little daughter saw nothing.  She was facing the other direction when I looked in the rear view mirror and saw the look of horror on my friend’s face. There was a big pile of snow so I could not see the body of her husband yet, I just saw her look and run.

That is one death. And one scarf. I have lost that scarf now and I have lost a lot of favorite things. I remember thinking, will I still want to wear this scarf later? And I did take it home, once his body had been moved to the truck and we were all inside having tea. I had my scarf. But I lost it later. I keep hoping I will find it in a bag of winter things.

When I went home I was all alone, the kids were in school. I crawled into my bed with all my clothes on. I called my Dad’s wife who was dying of heart break and I said, ‘I did not know who to call but I knew that if I called you I would not be able to make you more unhappy than you already are”.  I knew she was miserable after the death of her beloved, my Dad. She never recovered. She helped me on that afternoon though. It was good to talk to someone.

Later when I took my little girl and her brother to visit my step mom on my deceased Dad’s birthday, so she would not be alone, she was a walking ghost.

Her face was grey, she was thin and under nourished although she made herself soups and took herself off to yoga and listened to audio tapes that tried to tell her to remain present. We cheered her and distracted her but I wish we had taken her home with us to our chaotic, loving home.

She died of a sudden heart attack on her bathroom floor, her sweet little nightgown covering her carefully tended body.  Alone on the floor for days before anyone knew that she had not gone to her yoga retreat. When I heard I was frantic with panic. I thought I had killed her.

Had I left her a phone message that upset her and broke her heart?  Had my phone message about the sexual abuse of my cherubic soft haired baby girl been the final blow? What did I say? I could not remember. Did I leave a message, did I call and ask her to call me back, was I weeping?

But thank god for my big sister, who always wants to solve the pain in the world. She threw in a hook, deep into the ocean and pulled out some words of salvation,  She told me that if my step mother had heard I was in pain she would have called me back. She would have been there for me.

I felt great relief when I realized that my sister was right. I knew that was true. While my pain was almost killing me it would not have killed her. She would have called me and offered her help and love.

My message rang out in an empty house. She was already lying dead on the floor, oblivious to my pain or the curse of a storm cloud that was resting on ‘my happy little family’.

I cannot find that scarf. I have other things. I have my Dad’s wild staring eyes as I tell him I am going home because my kids needed me. I will see you in the spring, Dad.

I have the love of my step mother stamped in my heart. She told me she loved me when we sat by Dad’s hospital bed. She was a proper lady, very similar to my friend who invited the local volunteer firemen in for tea when her husband was carefully stowed away in the truck.

“What do I do now?” she asked me? And I said, “Let’s make some tea”.

We all sat around her table and talked about her husband. She cried a little and reached out involuntarily for his cap when she saw it on the back of the chair.  A repressed gasp, just audible.

I can’t find that scarf anywhere and I was determined that its brush with death would not stop me from wearing it.

I have my happy family; my little girl has healed from her assaults but carries that wound forever inside. She is growing into a preteen ripe with womanly power.  I smother her with love and attention.

I have no Mom anymore. She died the next year, singing and joking and lifting her eyebrows and squinting her eyes to continue contact with her children until the last moment. In my spirit world my dead are wrapped in my beautiful scarf.

Calving Season

Published October 1, 2013 by megdedwards

There was a sharp glint of pink in the universe,

northern lights crackled in the night sky.

There was a deep crack and rolling rumble,

a seismic icy shift, and a quiet shaking

that formed a crack in the mountainous block of ice, the glacier,

the glacier that is me, the mother of you,

when you moved away.

My little world, my grown woman,

you broke off and dropped into the deep cold blue waves.

I see you bobbing up, crowned with the rosy morning sun.

Sparkling like a diamond, glowing ruby,

an aura of love and warmth around you.

The whole world will change, the water will heat up,

Volcanoes will erupt underwater, hot lava freezing on contact with icy water.

The tremors will shake the world, continents will shift a few centimeters,

because you moved.

The earth’s surface is altered, the skin has rippled,

islands are rising out of the sea,

and the mountains have leaned back, sighing.

Chaos and Order – Life and Music

Published June 5, 2012 by megdedwards

I drove to Dorchester the other weekend to go to a village organized garage sale extravaganza. Maud and I found a few things but one of the most wonderful things was the music I found.

I was looking through a box of things and found some hand labeled CD’s and cassette tapes. What drew me to the tapes was the hand writing, which looked like my Dad’s.

I picked out a few CD’s and tapes, Beethoven and Vivaldi. Now I know I love to hear the piano in almost any kind of music, but I have also grown very fond of strings that vibrate into your heart.  When I play the Vivaldi 6 Concertos I am transfixed.  I keep turning it up, and tuning out what is around me.  I want to lie down and just listen. It is beautiful story telling music, with echoes and refrains and the soul crying out to celebrate life.  The 6 Concertos pulse and surge, my heart fills, my mind is completely drawn into the conversation of instruments.  My Dad and I listen together.

Maybe I appreciate the violin now more since I have tried to learn how to play it. I was just getting somewhere with my lessons when I cut the tendon in my finger in a bizarre and unexpected accident with homemade granola. The lesson to learn from that is that you may in fact have a limited time to learn  something new so don’t put it off for 40 years like I did.

But I am really good at going with the flow. So I have moved on. Now I listen to the violin and in my head I am playing it. Sometimes I do desire that my children will try everything with no hesitation, and try to be good at it too. There can be no harm in achievement of any kind in any art or discipline.

But music means a lot to me, and dance. And I never really recognized how much it did. Even now I let music enter my life randomly, and I don’t indulge it as much as I could with concerts or a good sound system. My car is littered with CD’s though because as a rural Mom I spend a lot of time in the car: pop, classical, salsa, Arabic music. CD’s like autumn leaves, unsheathed and chaotic. I am the one who sweeps my hands this way or that and makes things happen in my chaotic life.

I chose tap dancing when I was a young shy girl and my Mom told me I could take any class I wanted from our local community center. That must have surprised my Mom. And my brother chose cooking and has been a chef all his life! Then later I played in the all boy brass band in high school because I had been given the trombone in Grade 9 when I had requested the flute.  In my thirties I found belly dancing and loved it. Recently I have been taking West African Drumming with Kadijah and really enjoying it.

I don’t know if I am a self- authenticated person. I am not even sure I know what that means but I suspect it means you know who you are and you act on it.

Lots of us struggle with knowing and acting. It does seem to take me a long time to take myself seriously. I don’t pursue achievements, I don’t believe in myself too strongly. What I do know about myself is that I enjoy my own company and I can flow with the stream of life, watching and thinking.

It is probably a fairly good achievement to be a content person so maybe I am self -authenticated after all.  I have always had modest dreams and within my own expectations I have done well. I really wanted children, and from a very young age I knew that. As I matured I knew that I wanted to be the kind of mother who gives her whole being to her children and allows them to outshine her. And I am doing that as planned.

My writing was not so much of a career choice but a part of me, I have always had journal of insights, observations and occasional poetry.  I have made money from my writing, which is good I suppose, but I don’t suspect it is ever going to be a big money maker for me.

This blog allows me to open up and add my voice to the chorus of voices. I can hear my voice, and that is nice. Others can hear me, and that is pretty good for a recovered shy person. I dance at my local hall with my friends because we like to dance but I find I am too shy to perform with any real enthusiasm. I just like to dance for my own pleasure.

If I did have a ‘bucket wish’, it would be to play an instrument again, and especially to play or ding with others, in choir or in a band.

It is so satisfying to play with others. I rediscovered this when I was drumming in my last West African drumming workshop.  Kadijah had me on the big low drum and I had to hold the beat together for the rest of us newbie drum players during our last song and the culmination of all that we had learnt that day.

I was concentrating really hard, my brain tying me to my hands, my feet wide apart and my stomach hanging out and breathing deeply.  Nothing brings your heart, mind and body together more than music.

Your body and mind must work in unison. You cannot be distracted or self -conscious or you will lose the beat. Your mind must stay focused and the only thing you will hear is your own beat, and how it is working in chorus with the other drummers.

It is hard work and it makes you a whole person engaged in the moment. It is satisfying and revealing; discovering the power of singing or drumming  allows the body to remember what it felt like to learn how to walk or talk. Like infants we smile broadly, proud of ourselves and amazed at the sound of our own voices.

Magical thinking, magical writing

Published April 6, 2012 by megdedwards

My Mom and I were talking about memory and writing; recollection. She said it is too bad she cannot write down all the things that she is thinking and remembering, recollecting and sorting.

And  and I said, does it matter, after all? Do we need to record the details of our lives, does it matter?

Mom has been an artist and an archivist when it comes to her personal life, with illustrated journals and photo albums documenting every stage of her life. And we love that about her, and treasure the products of her creativity.

But I was talking about the bigger picture and she joined me there. If everything we drew or wrote burnt up in a fire, would we have lived less, felt less, had less of a place on earth? It cannot be that our lives are less important when not examined, documented,  given symbolic value.

It is a convergence of chance and timing that we know about certain people of the past, and not others.  We don’t know what writers we will read 100 years from now, nor what films we will remember, and it does not matter. But every day we continue to document our thoughts and our actions in attempt to clarify them to ourselves, to see ourselves, and to place ourselves in reflected light.

Our own dreams do that every night, building symbolism and metaphors into our thoughts and actions, taking anecdotal experiences and merging them with poetic writing. Why are we driven to create poetry and art where pure life stands before us?  Consciously, unconsciously, we cannot help building symbolism and trying to find patterns in the maze of life that is unmapped, uncontrollable and unpredictable.

Mom says that she has recently picked up the pleasurable habit of traveling in her mind. She settles down comfortably, or as comfortably as she can, her aging body crying out against time, and allows her mind to travel to a place in her memory. If she focuses on that pace in time she can go deep into it and see details of the scene as if she was living in it right at the moment.

It is like daydreaming, a fantastic pursuit, but backwards.  When people sit and stare and their minds are elsewhere, they should be left alone to dream. I remember a writer; I think it was Alice Walker, thanking her mother at the front of one of her books for mopping around her when she sat on the kitchen floor in a dream world.

As my Mom sits and thinks and prepares for death, something she dreads and fears, she has certain memories and stories that keep appearing. Some of them I have heard before, like when a crow came and pecked a t her brass buttons on her coat when she was a little child left outside on the back porch, and no one believed her that it happened.

But other stories are emerging that I have never heard before.  She told me that she used to scribble long pages of nonsensical ‘fake’ writing, as my first child did very diligently as well, and she told me that if she took that paper to her Mom she would read the story to her, making it up as she went.

I was taken with this story for a few reasons. I too had a very creative child who did fake writing, and in some ways I feel like I may be a bit like my Mom’s mother, who I never met. I have tried to picture her through my Mom’s stories but her stories are naturally colored by her complicated emotional feelings of being a daughter.

I have always had the impression of Mom’s Mother being a bit cold, an intellectual who later in life was given to stress headaches. A librarian and a reader, a feminist and a quiet activist, but I could not picture her being frivolous in any way. When I picture her reading aloud from her little daughter’s scribbles, putting words where there were none and creating a story out of her mind on the spot, it gives me a different view.  She was a full blooded creative mother scrambling from task to task like me.  She wrote poetry in her mind, words flowed and created stories even if she did not write them down.

My Mom has called that memory, ‘magical writing’. It has a title and a place in her mind, as if it is the first chapter in her autobiography. The next memory that keeps emerging could be entitled ‘magical thinking’; I have given it that name as I am writing this for Mom as if I am her official biographer.

As she tells it she was being put to bed in an odd room, possibly the attic, where the bed had a frill with a colorful red and green tulip pattern.  I think she was being put to sleep in the young live-in maid’s room but I may be making that up. It was clear, at least, that she was in a different bed and could not sleep.

The young girl taught her how to relax and go to sleep by imagining something fun like designing clothes. That day  Mom discovered that in her imagination she could design clothes any way she liked, and not be limited by what she could afford or sew.  It was a break through moment in which she came to recognize the power of her mind.

The young babysitter had only suggested that she design paper doll in her mind in order to calm her and distract her.  Being born and brought up in the depression, Mom knew how to cut out paper dolls and create clothes for them, and she wanted to get up and do it, but the babysitter told her to lie still and just imagine the clothes and build them in her head.  From then on little Natalie knew how to use her mind to create, distract and placate.

Now suffering from every sort of indignity of old age Mom goes into her mind to relax. She can conjure up beautiful detailed memories replete with the scents and sights. Much of her mind travel is pleasant but not all of it. Her vivid imagination has only given legs to the hallucinations and delusions that accompany her Parkinson’s medicine.

She creates such detailed people in her mind that she finds that she must try to engage them in conversation if she wants to discover if they are real. She has discovered that her hallucinations never respond and avoid looking her in the eye. I compared it to the dreams I have that I am writing, but that I cannot read my writing as I dream it. She said it was like that.

She sees people in such detail that she can describe very detail of their outfits, and then her active mind makes up a  story for why they are there. She has a film crew in her house who are forever moving things, boxing things and making her world seem to be in a state of flux. When she mentions this crew of workers I ask, ‘did you create these people”? And she sighs, “Well, that could be, but they do seem very real”.

The brain is our best mystery; we cannot really analyze the workings of our brains while we are using that very brain for our analysis. It is somewhat like trying to look into the eyes of our own hallucinations.

Thinking is our best action. We can do very little harm by thinking, contemplating and recollecting. Our brains can connect with the larger energy, flowing along a river of cyclical and symbolic imagery, creating something beautiful for no reason at all.

This is the first line of a poem that my Mom is writing,

“Along the sides of the river Illyses, scents of roses, scent of lilies…”

Another Poem from the Past (while I work on my philosophy essay)

Published March 22, 2012 by megdedwards

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.M.

 

Behind your eyes is a forest:

Fresh air, cool water running,

Leaf filtered sunlight,

Moss, ferns,mushrooms,

Decaying logs.

 

Eyelash curling coy around your hazel tree eyes.

It is dark, cold, damp and I have no compass.

Under the old leaves are shoots,

and beetles.

 

Footsteps around and around,

who else is in this wilderness?

 

Forests and thunderstorms put me in my place.

Just another surviving animal,

A great relief, and vulnerability.

 

I expect to see green shoots

from your eyes one morning –

– while my green eyes grow dark with old leaves.

 

 

More Poetry from a Dusty File

Published February 22, 2012 by megdedwards

Mess

 

I am a mess

inside my head,

ideas roam about like cattle

chased by dogs and men.

Constant fear and fullness

Hold the world near to me.

My voice stops at my mouth,

held british tight no weakness.

Pour spirits thru my teeth,

my very own sweet mouth,

will weaken, face redden, eyes brighten,

words trickle out, drop by drop.

I am moving further back into my head,

a full world there,

where I can marvel,

an animal only,

with the sensual spirit of the earth.

I am transcending,

I have nothing,

I am nothing.

Do not speak.

 

Bart – A cat remembered in poetry

Published February 21, 2012 by megdedwards

Orange Miracle –

Conceived by a  girl cat,

amber eyes and wild,

and a rough sick male

with blood on his nails.

I was midwife to your mother

Big fat orange boy.

You came from nowhere and exist for no reason.

And yet you lie on my couch now,

a six hundred dollar bandage on your leg,

gently patting my cheek

with your soft paw

and watching my eyes.

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